Saab staff upbeat on loan news

The Swedish government decided on Friday that Saab Automobile could sell its real-estate company to battle its liquidity issues. That decision gave hope to Saab employees who have been worried about their jobs.

“It was a decision in the right direction” Håkan Skött, chairman of trade union IF Metall at Saab, told news agency TT Saturday.

He said he hoped production would start again “in the near future.”

“People don’t want anything more than to build cars again, “ he said.

He added that while the process dragged on without a decision the situation felt “very frustrating.”

Production at the factory in Trollhättan is still standing still. A majority of Saab employees on the production side have been home since last Thursday, Skött said.

“It’s not strange that there’s a stop, it happens quite often due to different reasons,” he said.

“But this stoppage has been very long.”

Saab received approval Friday from the Swedish government to finance its current operations.

The solution means that Saab is allowed to sell its buildings to Russian business man Vladimir Antonov.

In return, Saab will be able to use the entire loan it received from the European Investment Bank in 2010.

“In practical terms, this means that tax payers’ exposure will decrease since the loan is decreasing,” Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson said Friday at a press conference.

She explained that the debt office is in the middle of carrying out an investigation of the new owner and that Friday’s decision doesn’t mean it has completed its assessment.

The probe is being conducted at the request of Saab, but is not yet finished.

The Debt Office must first eliminate a number of questions surrounding the new owner, said Olofsson.

But the government has placed three tough conditions in order for the deal to be approved.

The agreement must be signed between Saab and the buyer of its associated property company, Saab Automobile Properties AB, guaranteeing Saab a reasonable payment for company.

Saab must also retain access to the facilities to carry out its production. Finally, payment for the real estate must be carried out through a bank that isn’t controlled by the buyer.

Olofsson explained that the condition that the transaction be carried out through a European bank was meant to ensure the government that the deal involved a “serious buyer”.

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Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.